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Sheldon Adelson
Born August 1, 1933 (1933-08-01) (age 76)
Dorchester, Massachusetts, USA
Occupation Gambling/leisure businesses
Net worth $9 billion U.S. dollar (2009)

Sheldon Gary Adelson (born August 1, 1933)[1] is an American businessman. He is a property developer and public company CEO based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Adelson is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited which operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Adelson vastly increased his net worth upon the initial public offering of Las Vegas Sands in December 2004 by selling just 10% of the shares.



Adelson's parents were Jewish. His mother's family emigrated to the United States from Ukraine; his father's family came from Lithuania.[2] Adelson was born and grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, a rough-and-tumble section of Boston, where his father drove a taxicab. [3] He worked at a young age selling newspapers on local street corners and owned his first business by the time he was twelve. In the years that followed, he worked as a mortgage broker, investment adviser and financial consultant. He started a business selling toiletry kits, and in the 1960s he started a charter tours business with two friends. [3] He went to college at City College of New York but did not complete a degree there.[citation needed]

Adelson was born into a traditionally Democratic family but became a staunch Republican as his wealth grew.[citation needed] "Why is it fair that I should be paying a higher percentage of taxes than anyone else?" he was reported to have once asked. He began making major contributions to the Republican National Committee following clashes with labor unions at his Las Vegas properties.[4]

Adelson divorced his first wife, Sandra, in 1988 and met his current wife, Miriam Ochsorn, on a blind date the following year. They were married in 1991. Miriam Adelson is a physician who directs the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse.[5] Two of Adelson's sons, Mitchell and Gary, struggled with drug addiction. Mitchell died from an overdose in 2005.[5] Since 2001 Adelson has suffered from peripheral neuropathy and has relied on a cane to walk.[6]

COMDEX and casinos

The basis for Adelson's wealth and current investments was the computer trade show COMDEX, which he and his partners developed for the computer industry; the first show was in 1979. It was the premier computer trade show through much of the 1980s and 1990s.[3]

In 1988, Adelson and his partners purchased the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, the former hangout of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, in order to bring Las Vegas to a new phase of business centricity through the exhibition industry. The following year, Adelson and his partners constructed the Sands Expo and Convention Center, the only privately owned and operated convention center in the United States.

In 1991, while honeymooning in Venice with his second wife, Miriam, an Israeli physician, Adelson said he found the inspiration for a mega-resort hotel. He razed (by implosion) the venerable Sands and spent $1.5-billion to construct the The Venetian, a Venice-themed resort hotel and casino. The luxurious, all-suite Venetian revolutionized the Las Vegas hotel industry, and has been honored with architectural and other awards naming it as one the finest hotels in the world. In 2003, The Venetian added the 1,013-suite Venezia tower - giving The Venetian 4,049 suites, 18 leading-chef restaurants, a shopping mall with canals, gondolas and singing gondoliers.

In 1995, Adelson and his partners sold the Interface Group Show Division, including the COMDEX shows, to SoftBank Corporation of Japan for $862 million; Adelson's share was just over $500 million.[3]

Adelson spearheaded a major project to bring the Sands name to the Macao SAR, China, the Chinese gambling city that was a Portuguese colony until December 1999. The one million-square-foot Sands Macau became the People's Republic of China's first Las Vegas-style casino when it opened in May 2004. Adelson made back his initial 265 million dollar investment in one year and, because he owns 69% of the stock, he increased his wealth when he took the stock public in December 2004. Since the opening of the Sands Macao Adelson's personal wealth has multiplied more than fourteen times.[4]

In May 2006, Adelson's Las Vegas Sands was awarded a hotly contested license to construct a casino resort in Singapore's Marina Bay. The new casino, Marina Bay Sands, is expected to open in 2010 at a rumored cost of US$5.4 billion.

In August 2007, Adelson opened the $2.4 billion Venetian Macao Resort Hotel on Cotai and announced that he planned to create a massive, concentrated resort area he called the Cotai Strip, after its Las Vegas counterpart. Adelson said that he planned to open more hotels under brands such as Four Seasons, Sheraton and St. Regis. His Las Vegas Sands plans to invest $12 billion and build 20,000 hotel rooms on the Cotai Strip by 2010.[7]

In September 2007, Adelson announced that the Sands would open its second hotel, the Sands Macao Hotel in Macau in October of that year.[8]

In 2007, Adelson made an unsuccessful bid to buy controlling interest in the Israeli newspaper Maariv. When this failed, he proceeded with parallel plans to publish a free daily newspaper to compete with Israeli, a newspaper he had co-founded in 2006 but had left. [9] The first edition of the new newspaper, Israel HaYom, was published on July 30, 2007.

Financial status in 2008

During 2008, the share prices of the Las Vegas Sands Corp plunged. And in November, 2008, Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced that it might default on bonds that it had outstanding, signaling the potential bankruptcy of the concern.[1]

Adelson lost $24 billion in 2008 according to, more than any other American billionaire.[2]

Philanthropic and political contributions

Adelson currently has funded over $25 million to the M.I.S. Hebrew Academy in Las Vegas to build a high school. Currently (2008) the high school has grades 9-11 and will grow to include grade 12 in 2009.

In 2005, Adelson and his wife were both among 53 entities that contributed the maximum of $250,000 (thus the total contribution from the couple was $500,000) to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush.[10][11][12]

In 2006 Adelson contributed $25 million to the organization Birthright Israel, which finances Jewish youth trips to Israel. The gift is anticipated to be given annually for the foreseeable future [13]

Also in 2006 Adelson contributed $25 million to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.[14]

In 2007 Adelson founded the 527 lobbying group Freedom's Watch, a group that advocates America's continued involvement in the war in Iraq, and is run and supported, in part, by former officials of the Bush administration.[15] It has unsuccessfully financed several Republican congressional candidates and originally had intended to raise as much as $250 million to attack Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Obama and McCain have both stated they want such groups to stay out of the presidential election. A Freedom's Watch spokesperson said it now will focus on congressional campaigns.[16]

Also in 2007, Adelson pledged another $25 million to the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, allowing for approximately 20,000 people to take part in the program.[15]

Adelson also has funded the Boston based Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation. AMRF is a private foundation committed to a model of open and highly integrated collaboration among outstanding investigators who participate in goal-directed basic and clinical research to prevent, reduce or eliminate disabling and life-threatening illness. [17]

This foundation initiated the Adelson Program in Neural Repair and Rehabilitation (APNRR) with $7.5 million donated to collaborating researchers at 10 universities. [18] Adelson has publicly pledged billions to medical research and has encouraged researchers to contact AMRF with ideas that need to be funded.

Along with his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, Sheldon Adelson was presented with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution.[19] The ceremony was held on March 25, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The other award recipient that night was Wayne Newton, who received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service.[citation needed]

Sheldon Adelson has also received the Chairman's Award from the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a free market think tank in Las Vegas, for his efforts to advance free market principles in Nevada.[20]

Additionally, President George W. Bush appointed the Adelsons to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008.[21]


A June 2008 profile in The New Yorker detailed several controversies involving Adelson. In 2008 Richard Suen, a Hong Kong businessman who had helped Adelson make connections with top Chinese officials in order to obtain the Macao license, took Adelson to court in Las Vegas alleging he had reneged on his agreement to allow Suen to profit from the venture. While Suen won a $43.8 million judgement, Adelson's lawyers have vowed to appeal. Adelson faces another trial by three alleged "middlemen" in the deal who are suing for at least $450 million.[4]

During the Suen trial Bill Weidner, the president of Adelson's Las Vegas Sands company, testified about a telephone conversation between Adelson and his friend then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay(R) about a bill proposed by Representative Tom Lantos(D)that would have prevented the US Olympic Committee from voting in favor of the Chinese bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. A few hours later DeLay called back and told Adelson he could tell the Mayor of Beijing "this bill will never see the light of day." The resolution did not pass. Adelson testified in court that the demise of the resolution "...resulted from the press of other legislation, (not from) a deliberate move by DeLay to help his benefactor. [4]

According to the New Yorker, Adelson is "fiercely opposed to a two-state solution" for Israel and Palestine, which former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert supports, as a "betrayal of principle." Adelson opposed the 2007 Annapolis Peace Conference.[4] Adelson has been a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has since retaken that office and proposed a demilitarized Palestinian state with limited sovereignty.[22]

The New Yorker article also described how Shelley Berkley, a Nevada Democratic Party congresswoman who had worked for Adelson in the nineties as vice-president of legal and governmental affairs, quoted Adelson as saying that “old Democrats were with the union and he wanted to break the back of the union, consequently he had to break the back of the Democrats.” The Boston Globe also noted that Adelson has "waged some bitter anti-union battles in Las Vegas".[4][6] Congresswoman Berkley also claimed in the New Yorker article that Adelson "seeks to dominate politics and public policy through the raw power of money."

Adelson successfully sued the Daily Mail of London for libel in 2008. The newspaper had accused him of pursuing "despicable business practices" and having "habitually and corruptly bought political favour." Adelson won the libel case, which was described as "a grave slur on Mr Adelson's personal integrity and business reputation," and he won a judgment of approximately £4 million. Adelson said he would donate the damages to the Royal Marsden cancer hospital in London.[23]


At one point, Adelson's estimated wealth was US$26.5 bn, making him the third richest person in the United States according to Forbes for both 2007 and 2008[24]. In the 2009 list, his ranking dropped to #178 with a net worth of US$3.4 bn [25]. However the more recent Forbes 400 list ranks him as America's 26th richest man with a fortune amounting to $9 billion [26].


  1. ^ Brainy Media (2007), Sheldon Adelson Quotes,, retrieved 2007-04-07 
  2. ^ Tom Tugend, Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson expected to set new charity donation record, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, December 14, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d Gary Rivlin, "When 3rd Place on the Rich List Just Isn’t Enough", New York Times, January 17, 2008
  4. ^ a b c d e f Connie Bruck, The Brass Ring: A multibillionaire’s relentless quest for global influence, New Yorker Profile, June, 2008.
  5. ^ a b Amir Zohar, "The Adelson method" , Haaretz (English edition), March 13, 3008
  6. ^ a b Alex Beam, 31/adelson_bets_big_on_right_wing_politics/ Adelson bets big on right-wing politics, The Boston Globe, May 31, 2008.
  7. ^ "China opens world's largest casino",, August 28, 2007
  8. ^ "Second hotel to open in Macau",, September 28, 2007
  9. ^ (2007), American Billionaire Launching Free Israeli Daily,, retrieved 2007-07-12 
  10. ^ Drinkard, Jim (2005-01-17). "Donors get good seats, great access this week". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  11. ^ "Financing the inauguration". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  12. ^ "Some question inaugural's multi-million price tag". USA Today. 2005-01-14. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  13. ^ Isi Leibler, "BirthRight Israel... on second thought", Jerusalem Post, February 27, 2007
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b "Richest US Jew pledges USD 25 million to Taglit - Birthright israel",, February 6, 2007.
  16. ^ Peter Overby, Political Ads from '527' Groups Get Cold Shoulder, National Public Radio, May 28, 2008.
  17. ^ "Home page of the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation."
  18. ^ "Making Better Doctors", UCLA Medicine magazine, Winter 2007]
  19. ^ Las Vegas Sands Corp. (20087-03-26). "Sheldon G. Adelson and Dr. Miriam Adelson Receive Prestigious Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship". Press release. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  20. ^ NPRI Past Anniversary Dinners page.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Griff Witte, Israeli Leaders Find Generous Donors in U.S., Americans Give Most To the Political Right, Washington Post, July 26, 2008, A01.
  23. ^ Sheldon Adelson wins millions in damages from British newspaper, Reuters, March 20, 2008.
  24. ^ Forbes Special Report - The world's billionaires
  25. ^
  26. ^

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